Sat, Mar 30, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Premier says valid referendum needed to decide plant fate

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The government will continue construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), even if more than 6.89 million people vote against it in a referendum that proved invalid, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said yesterday.

According to the Referendum Act (公民投票法), 50 percent of eligible voters in the nation, about 9 million, must vote for a referendum to be valid, and of those who voted, at least 50 percent, about 4.5 million, must vote “yes” to the question asked for the referendum to be passed.

During the legislature’s question-and-answer session, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) asked Jiang what he would do if the referendum was invalid, but the number of people voting in support of suspending construction of the plant exceeded the number of people who voted for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) during his reelection in January last year — about 6.89 million.

Jiang said what he would abide by the Referendum Act, according to which a turnout of less than 50 percent of eligible voters in a national referendum is considered invalid, “tantamount to failure of a referendum.”

The KMT administration is preparing for a referendum asking the public: “Do you agree that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted and that it not become operational (你是否同意核四廠停止興建不得運轉)?”

Questions have been raised about putting the fate of the facility to a national referendum, with opponents saying it would not resolve the issue because the result is likely to be a large majority voting to halt construction of the facility, but with turnout not exceeding the 50 percent threshold needed for the vote to be valid.

Lin asked Jiang to respect the will of the people if more than 6.89 million votes are positive in the referendum, which she said could mean that people were opposed to Ma’s policy to put the power plant into commercial operation.

Jiang declined, saying that Lin has mixed up two different issues.

Meanwhile, several lawmakers voiced unfavorable views of the pamphlet published by the Cabinet on Thursday which aims to convince the public of the importance of the power plant .

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) said she found that the contents lack specific answers to four important questions.

“On safety, it says inspection by experts is pending. On the problem of nuclear waste, it says a repository is being looked for. On whether halting construction would result in electricity shortage, it says it’s likely. And it makes no mention of how the issue would affect electricity costs,” Lu said.

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